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Tennis: Djokovic, King again WTA’s transfer to droop tournaments in China over Peng Shuai considerations, Tennis Information & Prime Tales

Tennis: Djokovic, King again WTA’s transfer to droop tournaments in China over Peng Shuai considerations, Tennis Information & Prime Tales

WASHINGTON (AFP, REUTERS) – WTA Tour chairman Steve Simon on Wednesday (Dec 1) mentioned the ladies’s tennis circuit is suspending all tournaments in China over considerations in regards to the security of Chinese language participant Peng Shuai.

The Ladies’s Tennis Affiliation had deliberate 11 occasions in China this yr earlier than Covid-19 compelled it to be relocated or cancelled.

Resumption of competitors there may be now on maintain.

“I’m saying the quick suspension of all WTA tournaments in China, together with Hong Kong,” Simon mentioned.

He stays involved about Peng following her accusations of sexual assault in opposition to a robust politician.

“In good conscience, I do not see how I can ask our athletes to compete there when Peng Shuai will not be allowed to speak freely and has seemingly been pressured to contradict her allegation of sexual assault,” Simon mentioned.

“Given the present state of affairs, I’m additionally vastly involved in regards to the dangers that each one of our gamers and workers might face if we have been to carry occasions in China in 2022.”

The choice might price the US-headquartered organisation a whole bunch of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in broadcasting and sponsorship.

The WTA’s aggressive enlargement into China started simply earlier than the 2008 Beijing Olympic tennis event, and native curiosity within the sport was fuelled by Li Na successful the 2011 French Open.

In 2008, China hosted simply two WTA occasions. That grew to 9 by 2019.

In 2018, town of Shenzhen bagged a 10-year deal to host the season-ending WTA Tour Finals with a panoramic bid that doubled the prize pot to US$14 million (S$19 million) a yr.

The WTA had additionally introduced a 10-year deal beginning 2017 with streaming platform iQiyi as its digital rights associate in China, reportedly value US$120 million.

With the pandemic, many sporting occasions have been cancelled in 2020 and 2021 and the WTA eliminated its Asian swing occasions, together with this yr’s Tour Finals, which happened in Mexico. It’s unclear when the subsequent WTA occasion in China was scheduled to happen.

Peng, a 35-year-old Wimbledon and French Open doubles champion, was not seen for greater than two weeks following her allegations that former vice-premier Zhang Gaoli, now in his 70s, compelled her into intercourse throughout a years-long on-and-off relationship.

Peng’s claims in opposition to Zhang have been the primary time China’s #MeToo motion had touched the best echelons of the ruling Communist Social gathering.

Peng was photographed at a tennis occasion final month in Beijing and took part in a video name on Nov 21 with Thomas Bach, president of the Worldwide Olympic Committee. Beijing is about to host the Winter Olympics in February.

“Whereas we now know the place Peng is, I’ve severe doubts that she is free, secure, and never topic to censorship, coercion, and intimidation,” Simon mentioned.

“The WTA has been clear on what is required right here and we repeat our name for a full and clear investigation – with out censorship – into Peng Shuai’s sexual assault accusation.

“None of that is acceptable nor can it turn out to be acceptable. If highly effective folks can suppress the voices of girls and sweep allegations of sexual assault beneath the rug, then the premise on which the WTA was based – equality for girls – would undergo an immense setback.

“I can’t and can’t let that occur to the WTA and its gamers.”

IOC President Thomas Bach on a video name with Chinese language tennis participant Peng Shuai on Nov 21, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

The lack of occasions in China can be a blow to the WTA, however Simon mentioned, “China’s leaders have left the WTA with no alternative”.

“I very a lot remorse it has come up to now,” he mentioned. “Nevertheless, except China takes the steps we’ve got requested for, we can’t put our gamers and workers in danger by holding occasions in China.

“I stay hopeful that our pleas will probably be heard and the Chinese language authorities will take steps to legitimately handle this situation.”

‘Pressing’ to talk out

The European Union, the United Nations, america and Britain have all known as for proof of Peng’s whereabouts and well-being.

“I’ve been gratified by the large quantity of worldwide help the WTA has obtained for its place on this matter,” Simon mentioned.

“To additional defend Peng and lots of different girls all through the world, it’s extra pressing than ever for folks to talk out.

“I hope leaders around the globe will proceed to talk out so justice could be achieved for Peng, and all girls, regardless of the monetary ramifications.”

Billie Jean King, a 12-time Grand Slam singles champion who helped discovered the WTA in 1973, praised the transfer.

“I applaud Steve Simon & the @WTA management for taking a powerful stand on defending human rights in China & around the globe,” King tweeted.

“The WTA is on the best aspect of historical past in supporting our gamers. That is another excuse why girls’s tennis is the chief in girls’s sports activities.”

Males’s world No. 1 Novak Djokovic additionally lent his backing to the WTA’s determination.

“I help totally the WTA’s stance as a result of we do not have sufficient details about Peng Shuai and her well-being,” the Serb mentioned on the sidelines of the David Cup in Madrid on Wednesday, including her well being was of the “utmost significance to the world of tennis”.

Peng’s social media message alleging the sexual assault has been faraway from the Web and the problem has been censored in China.

“Chinese language officers have been offered the chance to stop this censorship, verifiably show that Peng is free and capable of converse with out interference or intimidation, and examine the allegation of sexual assault in a full, honest, and clear method,” Simon mentioned.

“Sadly, the management in China has not addressed this very severe situation in any credible means.”

The Worldwide Tennis Federation (ITF) mentioned it “understands the choice” of the WTA.

“The WTA has stood agency and true to its values from the beginning and we perceive their determination. We are going to proceed to intently monitor the scenario,” the ITF mentioned in a press release to AFP.

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